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ARRI Rental Archive: “The Godfather”

A look back at the iconic film, directed by Francis Ford Coppola.

On March 22nd, 1971, Hardwrick Johnson, George Harris, and other members of staff at Camera Service Center (now ARRI Rental), loaded a Cinemobile location truck waiting on W. 54th Street in Manhattan for a film they would never forget. 1st AC Tibor Sands had tested the equipment and helped load the camera package, which included a BNC blimp and a full set of Super Baltar prime lenses.

It was now headed to the first location on Fifth Avenue for cinematographer Gordon Willis ASC and camera operator Michael Chapman ASC. Over the next few months of principal photography, “The Godfather" was to make cinematography history.


Director Francis Ford Coppola (seated on dolly) talks to actor Robert De Niro (in cap)

Two years later history was repeated when a similar camera package with an additional set of Kowa prime lenses left CSC for the film's sequel, “The Godfather Part II.” This time the main unit included camera operator Ralph Gerling and 1st AC William Gereghty, with Tibor Sands handling the famous Cuban Revolution sequence.


Director Francis Ford Coppola (standing, center) in conversation with actor Marlon Brando (seated, center)

Almost 40 years after that first check-out, Hardwrick Johnson and George Harris—both of whom still work at ARRI Rental—were reunited with Tibor Sands to sign original posters for the two films, now proudly on display at the ARRI Rental facility in Secaucus, New Jersey.


Hardwrick Johnson, George Harris, and Tibor Sands (left to right)